Strange but True

By MDC | September 1, 2023
From Xplor: September/October 2023

Your guide to all the unusual, unique, and unbelievable stuff that goes on in nature.

Before unleashing its funky fury, an eastern spotted skunk often does a handstand and walks on its front paws with its tail held high. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Open wide. Biologists estimate the age of a white-tailed deer by looking at its teeth. Older deer have fewer “baby teeth,” and their molars (chewing teeth) are worn down more than those of younger deer.

American kestrels, like many birds, can see ultraviolet light. Voles — rodents that kestrels love to eat — mark their trails with urine. To humans, the urine is invisible. But in the ultraviolet spectrum, it glows like a neon sign pointing toward dinner.

Spin cycle: Black-and-yellow garden spiders usually eat their webs at night and re-spin new ones before morning. This is no easy feat. Large webs may contain 60 feet of silk!

Northern mockingbirds learn new songs throughout their lives. Older birds may have 200 tunes stashed in their songbook. With so many to choose from, mockingbirds mix it up and sing different sets of songs in the spring and fall.

Sproing! Nine-banded armadillos spring straight up when startled. This gives the armored animals a jump on hungry coyotes and other predators, but it doesn’t work so well for dodging cars.

Eastern woodrats have a hoarding habit. If they find a shiny object, they trade it for what they’re carrying and stash the treasures back in their nests. Because of this, campers sometimes find sticks where pocketknives or car keys used to be.

Hey chubby cheeks, don’t squeak with a full mouth. An eastern chipmunk can cram nine acorns into its mouth — four in each cheek and one between its teeth.

Also In This Issue

Mountain Lion

Creep closer for a sneak peek at Missouri’s most mysterious visitor.

This Issue's Staff

Photographer – Noppadol Paothong
Photographer – David Stonner
Designer – Marci Porter
Designer – Les Fortenberry
Art Director – Cliff White
Editor – Matt Seek
Magazine Manager – Stephanie Thurber